Ethiopia’s foreign policy is anchored on…

Ethiopia’s foreign policy is anchored on three pillars: economic diplomacy, engaging members of the Diaspora and promoting a stable geopolitical landscape in the region. The command centre of these national aspirations, on Menelik II Avenue, appears to be overly preoccupied with the issue of the Diaspora, judging by a recent report the Minister, Tedros Adhanom (PhD), circulated among his chief directors, gossip disclosed.

Pretty much, the economic diplomacy has increasingly become a domain of the President, Mulatu Teshome (PhD), himself once a foot-soldier of Menelik II Avenue. While a diplomat assigned in Ankara, he is credited for the influx of investments from Turkey, where over 200 firms have put an estimated 1.2 billion dollars and provided jobs for over 20,000 Ethiopians.

Geopolitical affairs in foreign policy has always been a matter of blurred line between those on Menelik II Avenue and Lorenzo Te’azaz Road, gossip observed. The generality of policy directions was the exclusive preoccupation of Lorenzo Te’azaz Road under the late Meles Zenawi, gossip recalled. The longest serving minister, Seyoum Mesfin, now ambassador to China and special envoy to South Sudan, was the person largely engaged in the operational lines, claims gossip. So was his predecessor, Hailemariam Desalegn, now a Prime Minister in the driving seat on Lorenzo Te’azaz Road.

Ironically, there appears to be a misalignment between the Prime Minister and his Foreign Minister on their division of labour, gossip claims. They do not seem to see eye to eye, for both are preoccupied with matters of operation lines, where they harbour differences in style and results, claims gossip. A response to Yoweri Museveni’s adventurous intervention in South Sudan and the subsequent departure of his army from there was a sour point, claims gossip.

No less divisive among them is Ethiopia’s loss of a politico-diplomatic roadmap in overcoming the crises in the newborn South Sudan, created by the not-so-highly regarded Salva Kirr, the President, and the untrustworthy Reik Machar (PhD), vice president-cum-rebel leader now sheltered in Addis Abeba, according to gossip.

Those in the gossip corridors are hardly surprised to see now the Prime Minister taking full control of Ethiopia’s rather topsy-turvy relationship with Egypt. Hailemariam is due to meet Abdel Fattah Saeed Hussein Khalil el-Sisi, Egypt’s sixth president, at a sideline during a UN Summit in New York at the end of this month, gossip disclosed. It will be their third meeting since they first met in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, back in June, where they reportedly had frank conversations, gossip disclosed.

President Sisi appears to have realised the change in tide for Egypt when it comes to its historic position towards Ethiopia in relation to the Nile, gossip observed. The loss of Sudan as its ally in the Nile politics is enormous; Sudanese officials are on the record now in their full support of Ethiopia’s effort to construct the largest hydro dam on the continent on the Nile. Little surprise then in the changed tone and manner of discourse seen from Egypt subsequent to that meeting, observed gossip. Not only has that meeting caused the resumption of the aborted tripartite negotiations between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt; the latter had its Minister for Irrigation, Hossam al-Moghazi, declare the completion of the first phase of the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), in 2015, has done “no tangible harm” to his country.

During their meeting in New York, el-Sisi is expected to come with one more offer to Hailemariam, gossip disclosed. He may extend the services of his office to broker peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea – the latter considered a proxy doing the bidding of Egypt in destabilising Ethiopia. El-Sisi has summoned Issayas Afeworqi, Eritrea’s president, for a day in his office last week, perhaps to tell him change his course, gossip claims. There will soon be a change in tone from Eritrea; nonetheless, those at the Lorenzo Te’azaz Road will remain sceptical of its sincerity, according to gossip.

Published on september 14, 2014 [ Vol 15 ,No 750]



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